When a trans-Atlantic group of psychiatrists and psychologists gathered at Yale in early December, it was as much a reunion of old friends as an academic symposium at the Child Study Center. Many in the group have known each other for years. They have written papers together, mentored and trained each other and collaborated on research and interventions.

The reason for the symposium, “Developmental Science and Psychoanalysis: Integration and Innovation,” was to formalize three decades of largely informal ties between Yale and the Anna Freud Centre in London. The symposium also celebrated the launching of the Anna Freud Centre Program at Yale and a revitalization of the Centre in London.

Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., director of the Child Study Center, likened the celebration to the renewal of wedding vows. “There has already been a very enduring marriage that has worked out very well,” he said. “Let’s go through the ceremony and vows again and chart the future.”

What the future holds for Yale’s participation in the program is a series of exchanges that will bring students and scholars across the Atlantic for training, research and study. Linda C. Mayes, M.D., the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology in the Child Study Center, will head the program at Yale and is one of three members of a new directorial team that will lead the Freud Centre.

According to Mayes, the program at Yale will offer training that includes exchanges for scientists and scholars, a master’s program, an undergraduate program and an international visiting-scholar program. The program will also include joint research projects focused on the science of early attachments and emotional development. “The idea is to have a continual exchange of ideas and very active collaborative clinical research,” she said.

The exchanges between London and New Haven go back three decades. In the early 1970s, the late Albert J. Solnit, M.D., HS ’52, who headed the Child Study Center from 1966 until 1983, forged a strong friendship with Anna Freud and introduced his Yale colleagues to her.

The Anna Freud Centre, which was established during World War II as the Hampstead War Nurseries to treat traumatized children, had become one of the leading centers for the treatment and study of children with a range of serious developmental and psychological disorders. The Centre’s collaborations with Yale involved professors at the medical and law schools as well as colleagues in the community and on the clinical faculty. The ties between these two institutions continued with the leadership of Donald J. Cohen, M.D. ’66, who led the Child Study Center from 1983 until his death in 2001 and who, like Solnit, served on the Centre’s board of trustees.

Last July, the Centre appointed a new directorial team that includes, in addition to Mayes, Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., and Mary Target, Ph.D. Fonagy is the Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis and Director of the Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology at University College London. Target is a senior lecturer in psychoanalysis, also at University College London.